Task force to keep Sikkim unaffected during Darjeeling unrest

June 25th, 2008 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

Siliguri (West Bengal), June 24 (IANS) The central and West Bengal governments Tuesday formed a task force to ensure normalcy in Sikkim during agitations in the Darjeeling hills after the hill state remained virtually cut off for two weeks due to the stir by a Gorkha group. The task force would monitor all developments in the hills to ensure that the National Highway 31 A, considered the lifeline of Sikkim, remains open during such agitations, West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb told reporters after a meeting with union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh at Sukna, about 15 km from here.

Representatives of the army, paramilitary forces and police would be included in the task force.

Earlier Tuesday, the two top bureaucrats of the central government airdashed to the Sikkimese capital Gangtok and held a high-level meeting with senior government functionaries of the hill state.

Sikkim was virtually cut off as Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists - fighting for a separate Gorkhaland state in Darjeeling - blockaded the highway at Rangpo on the Bengal-Sikkim border during the party’s indefinite shutdown that began June 10 and continued with intermittent breaks till Sunday, when the GJM announced a 60-hour relaxation.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung Tuesday announced the shutdown was being withdrawn till July 5.

Apart from Deb, West Bengal Director General of Police Anup Vora, Inspector General of police (North Bengal) Kundan Lal Tamta and senior officials of Darjeeling district were present at the discussions in Sukna.

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